First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable released

First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable leak

We’ve become accustomed to knowing one end of a USB cable has to go into a computer or charger, and the other end goes into your phone, but there is a future where you can use either end in either thingie, and this is what that utopian paradise looks like. The USB Implementers Forum is showing off two USB 3.1 connector standards today.

Type-C shows off a design similar to the microUSB format we all know and love, except it’s the same at both ends, and there’s no set top or bottom for those plugs. This reversible tip is a feature Apple’s been getting an early lead with using their Lightning connector, though the more direct comparison would be Apple’s Thunderbolt. The Micro-B cable shows a slightly wider mobile connector we’ve already seen cropping up in devices like the Samsung Galaxy Note 3

Why do we need a new USB standard? Well, increased data speeds for one. We’re talking 10 Gbps, versus the 5 Gbps available on USB 3.0. Two, you can expect faster charging times. We’ll be getting between 3 A and 5 A of current, up from 1.5 A. All of these new USB plugs will be backwards compatible with the 3.0 products in market (with an adapter, maybe?), so no need to worry about things getting too wonky with your existing hardware. In any case, it’ll be cool to start seeing micro-sized plugs built into PCs and chargers.

USB 3.1 port render


Reader comments

First renders of the reversible USB 3.1 cable released


These plugs combined with the EU standard for device charging cable could mean Apple will end up releasing devices with this plug instead of their lightning (although they would lose all that revenue they get from $30 cable that should cost $1-2)

They will if they are told to do so.

The other option is losing access to the biggest market in the world.

Apple fans should be furious that they went with this propietary lightning connector.  Completely asinine when the rest of the world uses mini and micro USB.

Apart from the fact lightning is proprietary, I actually prefer it to microUSB. It seems much more durable because it's one flat piece rather than a hollow shape. That isn't to say microUSB is fragile though. I bought an iPhone 5 and a Lumia 920 in 2012. I needed to replace the micro USB cable last month, but I'm still using the same lighting cable.

I agree that the lightning is a better connector, mostly because it's reversible. I bought several micro usb cables for very cheap, I was more concerned about losing cables (and having to unplug the one $30 cable and take it with me). IMO cheap cables beat a sturdy expensive cable and now that USB cables will be reversible (and have the same tips on both ends) it will be even better

The flat shape of the lightning connector isn't so great. I've seen MANY lightning cables where the pins are somehow damaged due to being exposd. 

but replacing the USB cable cost you $1-$2. You can replace 15 usb cables before you reach the price of one lightning cable. Atually the old 30 pin cables from Apple seemed pretty fragile. I had to replace a few of those. My USB cables seem to last a few years.

Nah, it's just you. Other people don't like paying for overpriced cable even if they're just a bit more sturdy comparably.

They'll still sell tons.  Many many many people only buy "official" apple accessories.  Their bigger revenue loss will be that they won't have belkin, etc. licensing their technology for products.

In Australia you can get lightning cables for 6 bucks, basically the exact same price as micro usb, just don't buy genuine.

Thats the same uninteligent question that people say about USB 3, that is until they use it and then they will never again want to wait a 1min+ for something to copy.


Ha. Thats my point. Everyone in my country indonesia (or worldwide) always thinking : who need superspeed, if you just wait a minutes to copy, at least doesnt take long time."

Everyone in indonesia still using USB 2.0, and i asked why dont use USB 3.0? his answer : who need a superspeed, even usb 2.0 is so fast?

(pardon my eng again)

People who copy large files? When I go on vacation, I copy several movies to my tablet and even with the USB 3.0 it takes some time to transfer the files.

The Lightning port is my favorite part about my iPhone 5s. I was honestly thinking about the sheer convenience of not having to worry about a top or bottom for the connector.

Working in IT, you would be surprised at the amount of reports that we get from people who can't get their usb devices to simply plug in and say "it doesn't plug into the computer anywhere! I have tried everything!"

These people should be given a pad and pencil to work with. If they can't figure out up and down maybe a PC is little over their heads.

Maybe because larger devices like PCs preceeded the advent of the revolutionized consumer smartphone market around 2007. The PCs and laptops OEMs had already manufactured and designed and were designing had a USB port that accommodated the size of the device. With smartphones tremoondous growth in the market, they of course needed ports that would connect them to devices/power units, but naturally the standard USB port on a PC was far too large for a smartphone to accommodate. Thus the mini/micro USB port on smartphones. This of course necessitated cables with one end that would fit PC/laptops which were already well founded in the market , and now these relatively new, much smaller devices, that were new to the market- thus cables with different ends.
Now that we are years down the road and smartphone/mobile (tablets too) market is well established and the advent of a cable with the same ends is now timely. Just my guess as to why we didn't see this in the beginning.

He's not talking about host and slave side plugs, he's talking about up and down on the plugs being reversible. 

Because engineers will never truly understand how uncompromising incompetent the human race is.

I'm more intrigued by the faster charging capabilities. Not that it takes too terribly long to charge my 920 now, but to think that it could get faster? That's awesome.

I think it would be most relevant on tablets where they have very large batteries that presently require a long time to charge. This technology together with technologies like the Snapdragon 800's fast charging will reduce charging time significantly.

Well there are no laptops with said ports yet so they have to make a rendering. It just shows what they're thinking it will look like. Hasn't it already been confirmed that USB 3.1 will be reversible? I just didn't know that the cables will also no longer have directions either. 

So if it's the same on both ends, are we going to need another port to plug it into computers? An adapter? Neither of those sound like good options for current products.

Not a fan of those slim and small plugs, especially when the cable moves a lot, like with headphones for example. Easier to break.